[We’re pleased to welcome authors Cathy H. C. Hsu and Nan Chen of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. They recently published an article in the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research entitled “Resident Attribution and Tourist Stereotypes,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly describe their research and its significance.
From 2003 to 2015, Hong Kong (HK) saw a more than five-fold increase in mainland Chinese tourist (MCT) arrivals. With a population of 7.3 million, HK residents had to share their limited living space with 59 million tourists, of whom 77% came from mainland China. The tension between HK residents and MCTs has increased substantially. The negative public opinion on MCTs reached its peak with a series of “anti-locust” protests in early 2014. Protesters staged satirical rallies to urge MCTs to go home. In 2015, HK saw the first decline (-2.97% compared to 2014) in over a decade in MCT arrivals. The ensuing Umbrella Movement has been regarded as a panoply of identity politics and civic passions, some of which was anti-China/Chinese.
In various popular tourism destinations around the world, anti-tourist sentiment has been expressed by residents whose lives have been inconvenienced to say the least. Over-tourism has become a popular discussion topic in the news and social media. Mainland Chinese outbound travelers have dominated the tourist arrival growth in many countries and become an important source market internationally. Along with the rapid increase in tourist numbers, reports of Chinese tourists’ lavish and sometimes unruly behaviors become the media headlines from time to time in many countries. The tourism research community has just begun to address all these unconventional phenomena. These events stimulated our curiosity in the host community’s stereotypes toward a dominant tourist group, aiming to develop counter-stereotype strategies through a comprehensive study of the generation, content, and consequence of tourist stereotypes.
This conceptual paper represents a first attempt to link attribution and stereotypes by identifying interactions between each step of the two cognitive processes, in the context of resident-tourist encounters. It pioneers in establishing conceptual links between a tourism phenomenon and the social psychology theoretical development, through a thorough literature review and the proposed conceptual framework of tourist stereotypes and resident attribution.
This paper also broadens the research paradigm of resident-tourist relationships. Attribution theory not only offers a special lens through which to peek the complex and dynamic resident-tourist relations, but also provides an opportunity to test a new framework through the integration of tourist stereotypes, thus leading tourism scholars toward greater theory development and testing. The comprehensive model proposed in this research can serve as a productive meta-theoretical framework – not only giving an account of existing knowledge in social psychology and tourism, but also generating fruitful research questions that can enhance our understanding. This comprehensive framework needs to be tested urgently using empirical data. The complex relationships among the variables in the model pointed out directions for future research and provided many potential opportunities.
In addition, attribution studies need to move out of the “social vacuum” psychological laboratory, entering the real and complicated social settings to be further developed. The complex and dynamic resident-tourist encounter settings could overcome the constraints imposed by laboratory experiments, and broaden the scope and depth of attributional research, to address the recognized deficiencies of attribution theory outlined in this paper.
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